6 arrested in Teheran over Labour Day rally

A protester holds a sign reading "Free imprisoned workers in Iran" as he takes part in a May Day rally in Sweden.
A protester holds a sign reading "Free imprisoned workers in Iran" as he takes part in a May Day rally in Sweden.PHOTO: AFP

TEHERAN (AFP) - Iranian security forces arrested six people in Teheran on Tuesday (May 1) during an unauthorised demonstration by workers to mark May Day, the ILNA news agency reported.

It said a "large number of workers", including teachers, had gathered in central Teheran to protest against a ban by authorities preventing them from rallying to mark the international labour day, which is not an official holiday in Iran.

The demonstrators also wanted to press their demands, it said without elaborating.

ILNA quoted a security source as saying the people arrested were "only those who wanted to cause trouble".

A union official, quoted by the news agency, said "the workers are not counter-revolutionaries or opposition members" but people who are merely seeking "a dignified life, a guaranteed job and minimum well-being".

At least 25 people were killed at the beginning of the year as popular protests triggered by economic discontent sprung up in dozens of Iranian cities.

Hundreds of factory workers also staged strikes earlier this year in the central city of Arak, as well as Ahvaz in the south-west of the country, over unpaid wages.

Recent weeks have also seen social media filled with videos and reports of protests, but since they are barely covered by domestic media and access is restricted for foreign journalists, they have been hard to verify.

They include protests by farmers over water shortages in Isfahan; by ethnic Arabs over the treatment of minorities in the southern province of Khuzestan; and over administrative reforms in the southwestern city of Kazeroon.